Cyprus Mail

Arikli to face party leadership challenge

File photo: Erhan Arikli

The north’s ‘transport minister’ Erhan Arikli is to face a challenge for the leadership of his party the YDP at its forthcoming party conference in February.

‘MP’ Talip Atalay announced on Tuesday his intention to challenge Arikli, who has led the party since its inception in 2016. The YDP is currently in ‘government’ in the north as part of a three-party coalition with the UBP and the DP.

Speaking following the announcement of his candidacy, Atalay said there had been “intense demand” for him to stand for the party’s leadership, and that his candidacy has “already had wide repercussions”.

He added that he wishes to “send a message of reconciliation and change within the party.”

“We can carry on the process with peace and consensus, without causing any disruption. We want change. We want a holistic change not only within the YDP but also in this country’s politics,” he said.

Arikli was dismissive in his reaction to the leadership challenge, saying “I hope Talip didn’t announce his candidacy because he got carried away.”

On Wednesday, he spoke to the north’s public broadcaster BRT about the matter, saying he was “saddened” by the leadership challenge.

“I did not believe Talip would be a candidate. He was someone who did not experience the difficult days during the YDP’s establishment. He joined the YDP when he was elected to parliament,” he said.

He pointed out that Atalay had initially attempted to be a candidate for the UBP, but had failed to make the party’s candidate list, before subsequently successfully applying to be a candidate for the YDP.

What did Talip want to do that I stopped him from doing? What did he not like that made him become a leadership challenge?” he asked, adding his belief that Atalay would “withdraw his candidacy in a short time.”

He added that he “can win under all circumstances, but my party will suffer a big blow” as a result of the leadership challenge.

Atalay was born in the Turkish province of Mersin in 1968 before moving to Cyprus with his family in 1975. He studied theology before eventually becoming chairman of the north’s religious affairs directorate in 2010. He was elected to ‘parliament’ for the first time in 2022.

The YDP’s party conference is set to take place on February 17.

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